A/N: I'M GOING TO WARN YOU NOW, KIDS! THIS. IS. DARK. Turn back now if you aren't prepared for it.

Warnings: child abuse, heavily implied but not overtly explicit sexual abuse, some language, dark, kind of a vague tone, Erik/Charles, heavy on imagery, italics, flashback, and thought.

Disclaimer: I do not own X-Men, I'm a poor fangirl. Title inspired by a line from Shakespeare's Hamlet ('It hath the primal eldest curse upon't/A brother's murder').


Charles stands silently by the window, his hand pressed against the cool glass, and gazes out at the dark night. The grass looks like black carpet under the pale moon (pale like young, English flesh), and the trees make a barrier around the edges of the grounds, solid and seemingly impenetrable (dark, dark, dark, it was always dark here).

Charles tries to master himself, he really does. He should have known coming back to this house would affect him like this. It's simple psychology; in London, it was easy to forget things. He was surrounded by friends, colleagues, Raven, genetics, Oxford – he repressed.

And here? Here he has his students (his three wonderful boys, and his beloved sister), but he also has the looming shadow of Shaw overhead, hanging like a dark cloud over their training sessions. And here he has memories.

"Charles." His name, spoken like a dirty swear, as a thick hand curled itself around his white throat.

"Please – please, Cain . . ." That name, spoken like a plea and a curse, before he could no longer speak.

Charles can still feel it – he can still feel that hand, choking him, trying to crush him, trying to break him.

"Charles?"

"Shut the fuck up, boy." Now it's become 'boy' – it always ends up that way. Charles wonders vaguely what 'it' he's referring to – is he speaking to himself in third person? Is he the 'it'?

The fingers tighten, squeezing, and Charles grunts. Cain's mind throbs sickeningly, like some sort of swollen infection, a virus, gnawing at Charles's brain, eating him alive. Cain moves his hand for a split second, allowing Charles to gulp for air, and then Charles gasps softly in agony as Cain's teeth dig hard into his throat.

"Charles, what are you doing?"

Erik's voice is groggy, soft, thick with sleep. His accent is always apparent when he's sleepy. Charles usually finds it adorable, but now he just feels the bright sensation of surprise. He jumps at the sound of Erik's voice, caught like a startled mouse. ('What an adorable lab rat you make, Charles.' Perhaps you were right, Erik.)

Erik lifts his head slightly from the pillows and squints at Charles. Charles sees himself through Erik's sleep-befuddled gaze, sees a pale, short man standing by the window, his skin nearly a blinding shade of white in the glow of the moon. Charles looks young, in Erik's eyes. Charles feels young, he is young, he was young . . . he's so bloody confused, and he doesn't know why. He thought he could handle this.

"Don't you know I fucking hate you?" Cain spits bitterly against Charles's shoulder. Charles trembles. He knows.

There is concern in Erik's voice now, which is unusual. "Are you alright?" Erik asks, sitting up and rubbing his eyes. "You're not ill, are you?"

"No," Charles murmurs, "No. I'm not ill."

Erik rises from the bed and drifts to Charles. His touch on Charles's back is feather light. He studies the telepath for a moment. "You're upset about something. You look as though you've been crying."

("Quit crying for your mother, you little freak. She won't come for you, you know that. Damn it, I said quit!")

Charles shakes his head, a lump forming in his throat. "No, I'm alright."

"Stop lying, Charles," Erik murmurs, stroking his fingers up and down Charles's back soothingly.

("Hold fucking still.")

Charles caves. "It's just – it's – it's the house," he says quietly, trying to focus on the gentle brush of Erik's fingers. He refuses to look back outside – did he ever play out there, on that grass, as a child? Perhaps he did, once, with Raven. That was one moment when he was free of Cain. Only one.

"The house?" Erik prompts. Erik may not like discussing his personal childhood traumas, but he certainly seems interested in Charles's. (Charles urges himself to stop being so paranoid – Erik is only trying to help, after all.)

"There are secrets here, Erik," Charles finally says. "My secrets. Other people's secrets."

Erik doesn't speak, just nods for Charles to continue.

Cain is right; Charles's mother never comes. He's sure that if he screamed louder, he would wake Raven and she would come, but that is a bad idea. A very bad idea. She's his little sister (technically not, but who gives a damn – technically, Cain is his stepbrother, and no one says a bloody thing), she cannot see this.

Charles can't cry anymore – he's merely making soft little mewling wails. Cain slaps him, hard, and Charles feels the blow radiate along the side of his face.

Cain grabs Charles by his narrow, boyish hips, and forces him over. It begins, the agony that Charles has endured before. This is the 'it', he realizes. This is Hell.

Charles breaks.

Erik's eyes are wide, his hand has stilled on Charles's spine. Charles wonders in a panic if he is being judged, and he frantically slides into Erik's mind, listening.

/how could anyone hurt him – fucking kill him – find him and kill him for hurting Charles – my Charles –/

Charles relaxes slightly, and reaches up to touch Erik's face lightly. He cups the angular jaw in his hand, strokes the cheek with a finger. "Thank you. But please, my friend, calm your mind."

"But –,"

Charles's body feels as though it is being ripped in half (he's still sore from Kurt's last beating – it had involved the belt again, and the bruises ache terribly . . .), and his mind is fiery, broken, gone, muddled, and he just wants it to stop

Someone is screaming.

It isn't Charles.

"Charles, how did you manage it?" Erik whispers, once he has guided Charles back to the bed. "How are you not–?" /like me – why aren't you broken, too? – why don't you want him dead?/

"I don't know."

Cain pulls away desperately, screaming, clawing at himself and at Charles, clawing at the very air. Charles turns his head to face the older boy, and he realizes, for the first time, just how powerful he is.

The force it takes to make Cain hurt is there – swirling through his mind, dark and thick, his telepathy, his mutation – he is a freak, yes, but then, so is Cain.

Cain screams. "Stop it! St-stop it! Charles, god-damn it!"

I want you to hurt, Charles told him not-quite-savagely. Does it hurt, Cain? I know Kurt beats you, too, harder than he beats me – does it hurt to turn that on me? Does it hurt to feel me in your head? Do you know what I could do to you?

Cain screams, desperate and keening, and Charles recognizes the sound. He hears it from his own throat all the time.

It is that sound, perhaps, that brings Charles back to himself. The light of mercy burns bright in his blue eyes as he releases Cain, draws his mind back, lets go of the area in Cain's mind marked PAIN.

"Get away," Charles tells Cain quietly, and Cain obeys, fleeing the room like the twisted and broken wretch Charles now knows that he is. Stay away.

Erik strokes Charles's hair gently, so gently that Charles wants to cry again. But he won't – he has controlled himself now. He has buried It for now.

"I've never told anyone before," Charles murmurs. "Not even Raven."

Erik hand doesn't still, just keeps caressing. "You were alone, weren't you."

"I was," Charles agrees in a whisper. "I was alone."

(Stay away, Cain, stay away from me.)

"So was I," Erik whispers. "I was always alone, alone with Herr Doktor . . ."

Charles leans close, close enough to kiss Erik. "And I was alone with Cain."

Erik kisses Charles's mouth lightly, and then his cheeks, and then his lips again. "I love you," Erik whispers. He murmurs something in German, something too low for Charles to catch.

(/I don't want you to be alone – I don't ever want to be alone again – Charles/)

You won't be, Charles tells him quietly. And I won't be. We are not alone.

Erik kisses him again, and Charles forces a brave smile – brave, because if they aren't brave, Herr Doktor and It will consume them. Charles feels himself slowly pulling back from the darkness that threatens to consume him, tugged back by Erik and Erik alone. Perhaps, he thinks rather naively, they can fix one another, if they can't fix themselves.

(But some things can never be fixed, whispers Cain Marko from the darkness. Charles trembles. He knows.)


A/N: I think this may be the darkest thing I've ever written. Reviews would be greatly appreciated.